Sharon Hewitt Rawlette is a writer, philosopher, and consciousness researcher. She earned her PhD in philosophy from New York University, taught at Brandeis University, and currently serves on the board of the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies as well as being a supporting researcher for the International Centre for Reincarnation Research. She has published four books and was named a runner-up in the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies essay contest for her essay “Beyond Death,” on the best evidence for the survival of human consciousness after permanent bodily death.
Dr. Rawlette’s research and writing ranges over many different types of extraordinary human experience and explores what they have to tell us about consciousness and the deeper nature of the world we live in. Her research in this area began with the phenomenon of “coincidences”: those strange, enigmatic experiences that are so often personally meaningful but push the boundaries of what we consider scientifically possible. Her May 2019 book The Source and Significance of Coincidences presents a wealth of evidence concerning the statistical importance of coincidences, their range of probable causes, and how we can best interpret their implications for our lives.
In November 2021, Dr. Rawlette was named a runner-up in the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies essay contest for her essay “Beyond Death.” This essay, available for free on the BICS website as well as in paperback, on Kindle, and as an audiobook, summarizes and analyzes the best evidence for life after death collected over the last 150 years.
Dr. Rawlette has also written about coincidences as well as other topics on her Psychology Today blog, Mysteries of Consciousness, and has presented some of her research at the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
Her current research is moving in a more theoretical direction, focusing on what survival research as well as parapsychological research in general tell us about the nature of the world in which we live. What she hopes to make clear is how insufficient the physicalist, mechanistic paradigm is and how vital it is to widen our conception of reality to include the wide variety of properties instantiated by consciousness, including causal efficacy and intrinsic value. This new research dovetails with some philosophical work she did at the beginning of her career, and which she published in her 2016 academic work The Feeling of Value: Moral Realism Grounded in Phenomenal Consciousness.
On a more personal note, in May 2020, Dr. Rawlette published a memoir–The Supreme Victory of the Heart–about her first encounters with meaningful coincidence, which happened in the difficult months after her French fiancé told her about an old flame who had come back into his life. She has also written several personal essays on the topics of relationships, spirituality, and the environment, which have appeared in Salon and Orion, among other places. While she now lives back in the rural area of eastern Virginia where she grew up, she spent almost all of her 20s elsewhere: getting a PhD in philosophy at New York University, falling in love in Paris, teaching philosophy at Brandeis University outside Boston, and living on a 200-year-old retired dairy farm in Brittany, France. All of these experiences have found their way into her writing, in one way or another.